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Hit Due Dates, and do things when you promise

One of the main problems with email is that the inbox is a swamp into which everything sinks, never to be seen again.

Due Dates are the way to pull things out of that swamp, and put them into neat little boxes, that can be opened on the day they represent.

Assign an email a Due Date

  1. To assign a Due Date to an email, start by opening the email
  2. Next, click the Due Date button at the top and select your completion date from the choices there.
  3. If the date you want isn't one of our common dates, select Choose a Date and pick the one you need from the calendar
  4. In this example, we've picked Today
  5. Simply return to your Inbox and you'll see the email at the top in the Today section

Sorting your Today List

  1. Once you've got a number of items in your Today list, or your Tomorrow list, or any of the other lists that appear at the top of your inbox, you can sort them by opening the menu on the Sort button
  2. If you choose Sort by None, then items can be re-arranged by dragging and dropping them

Finishing Something

When you've completed a task, just click the 'Done' button which has a tick on it. You can do this from the Today view or from inside an opened email

Examples

If you promised your boss that you would reply in 2 days, set the Due Date for 2 days. ActiveInbox will remind you as it approaches, and then it’ll appear on the day you need it.

Tips

What is the difference between Waiting On reminders and Due Dates?

Essentially, Due Dates mean “I have to complete this by day X, keep my attention on it as it approaches”. Whereas Waiting On reminders mean “This item is blocked until either something happens (e.g. they reply) or the reminder date occurs and I have to follow up, so keep it away from me - and off my mind - until either of those triggers occurs”.

You can apply both. For example, if you need to complete something by next Wednesday you could set a due date for then. But to help you complete it, you have to get information from a colleague, and so you send them an email and add a Waiting On reminder for tomorrow.

What happens if I need multiple due dates?

E.g. one to remind me when to next take action, and one for when the deadline is truly happening?

We suggest you treat Due Dates like the “next time I should do something date”, and keep altering it every time you revisit the email/task. You could store the real deadline in the Notes field as a reminder.

Can I set a specific time for my Due Date?

If you're thinking 'I want to set a time for my reminder, e.g. to call Sue at 10am' then please remember that time-specific actions have a better name: appointments. And they're much better managed on your GCal (it'll even send a reminder to your inbox!).

Can a Due Date return the email to my inbox?

I've wrestled often with the question 'should we put all emails that have hit their reminder back into the inbox?'. Well, we went ahead and tried it as an experimental feature, and do you know what happened? Everyone kept bringing things back to their inbox, clogging it up, and then promptly setting the reminder for tomorrow. Which might be common deadline behavior, but it's the exact opposite of what we stand for: helping you keep a clear head and stay in positive, relaxed control throughout your day. We believe it's much better to keep a simple Today list, ordered by priority, and then work through it - while staying away from the noisy interruptions coming into your inbox.

Should I put everything for today on my Today list?

Some time management professionals also recommend 'Daily To Do Lists', where you mark everything you want to achieve for Today. Do not do this! I'll hand over to Getting Things Done's David Allen for the reasons why this is a dreadful idea: "Such lists don't work, for two reasons. First, constant new input and shifting tactical priorities reconfigure daily work so consistently that it's virtually impossible to nail down to-do items ahead of time. ... Second, if there's something on a daily to-do list that doesn't absolutely have to get done that day, it will dilute the emphasis on things that truly do". Please exercise caution with your reminders - keep them only for things that truly have to be done that day!

Remember, emails ARE the tasks!

You'll notice that ActiveInbox doesn't create separate tasks from your email... the email becomes the task. And because the emails are the tasks, you don't have to keep switching between your email client and a task manager. Gmail will become your ultimate task list, so you never forget anything - ever again.

You’ll notice that things you give a Due Date are removed from your Inbox

(This is a preference - you can disable it!). Don’t worry, ActiveInbox is tracking it, and now you’re one step closer to Inbox Zero. If you’re ever worried, click ‘All (including Finished)’ on your sidebar and you’ll see everything.